So the word from the reporters on the scene in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium this morning, with the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves set to meet in Grapefruit League action at 1:00 pm EST this afternoon on MASN, is that 20-year-old slugger Bryce Harper's left hand/thumb is still sore, but he'll be in the lineup with a thumb guard on his hand to help him deal with the pain/inflammation. Today is Chris Young's opt-out date, but he's scheduled to start in tomorrow's game and could make a decision after that. Oh, and Henry Rodriguez is still feeling soreness in his surgically-repaired elbow so the Nationals will be keeping a close eye on the right-handed hurler. And then there's this:
• The Nats' lineup for this afternoon's game against the Atlanta Braves, which is being shown on MASN (via @ZuckermanCSN):
• And here's the Braves' lineup (via MLB.com's Mark Bowman):
#Braves lineup: Simmons 6 Heyward 9 J. Upton 7 Freeman 3 Uggla 4 Francisco 5 R. Johnson 8 Pagnozzi 2 Medlen 1— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 24, 2013
Jordan Zimmermann makes his sixth start of the Spring this afternoon, coming off a dominant outing against the Detroit Tigers last time out in which he retired 18-straight after surrendering a leadoff single and left the game with a 1-0 lead which the bullpen promptly blew in what ended up a 5-1 loss to the defending American League champs. So far in Spring Training, Zimmermann's given up 21 hits, five walks and 13 runs, 11 earned in 19.2 IP in which he's K'd 12 and held opponents to a .266 BAA. He's also been piling up ground ball outs with 13 total his last time out.
It's one of those days where you have everything working," Zimmermann told reporters after the game, "You can locate everything any time you want. It's hard to come by. They don't come by often, let's just say that. And when you've got everything working it's a lot easier and I was keeping everything in the bottom of the zone and that's why I got all the ground balls."
So it would be wrong to expect another outing like that last one I suppose? Especially against the Braves' lineup? But the Tigers weren't trotting minor leaguers out there? Hmmm... Guess we'll have to tune in and see. 1:05 pm EST. Nationals vs Braves. They don't count until April 1st, but that doesn't mean they aren't fun to watch. Zimmermann vs the Braves. Who's Watching the Nationals? Did I mention it's on MASN?